RPG Review #169: Might and Magic IX: The Writ of Fate

NuMetalManiak One again, we have yet another entry in the Might and Magic series, going with the 2002 game in the series entitled The Writ of Fate. Quite a few differences from other titles, but mainly in graphics; in other words, Might and Magic IX follows a similar formula to the previous three games. I might as well just get right into it, things will be a lot like other titles and I will say this before starting, I will of course take a big break from the Might and Magic series now. Felt like I was going for all those CRPGs for a while, but there's a number of games in other franchises that I want to explore, so there you go.

Gameplay: So overall the core gameplay is like the previous entries. Active-time battle and hybrid navigation is in place. As usual, four characters to a party, though you do get guest storyline characters. Naturally, this makes battles somewhat chaotic at times, but this game wasn't nearly as difficult as the ones before it for me. Skill points are of course a thing, as are the job promotions and training, and character classes of course play a part in those things. I guess an odd thing regarding the classes is that you start out with just two, the fighter, which is might-based, and initiate, which is magic-based. Might and magic, har har. You of course go from there to other, more familiar character classes. But really, that's all I have on gameplay. The graphics are better, but the gameplay remains largely the same. Grade: A-

Characters: And like the gameplay, characters are all decided by the player. I covered quite a bit on the classes, but not necessarily the races. Regardless, they are also mostly the same, but to recap: you got races like dwarves which make good physical fighters with bad magic, elves which are basically the opposite, and humans which are the jack-of-all trades. Plus half-orcs, which are the real physical fighters. A lot of customization goes a long way to making the characters, and that's what you got there. A number of characters are important to the plot, or to some sidequests, but I'm not going to make much mention of those, especially since this game really doesn't have as much a connection to previous titles. Grade: B

Plot: Remember how I said this one doesn't have a lot of connection to previous titles? Well, you're not going to be seeing Enroth with this game at all. I guess that's good, the problem is I have to follow the plot of the Heroes of Might & Magic series to put it all together, and at the moment I don't have intentions of playing that. This time the game takes place in Axeoth, a place where the islands look like Hawaii and the main continent is called Rysh. The main story takes place in the Chedian region. Specifically it takes place after Heroes of Might & Magic IV, which had the destruction of Enroth, and I don't have a clue how that happened as of yet. The Chedian region is one of many clans, all of which tend to have disagreements with one another.

I'll go over just the main story and no sidequests. There's another warring clan, the Beldonians, planning to invade Chedian under the rule of Tamur Leng. The main party arrives to Chedian in a shipwreck, helped out by this hermit as well as Forad Darre, who's a guest character. The main deal here is actually simple, unite the six disagreeing clans because we all know "enemy of my enemy is friend" and all that, considering that the main threat comes from an invading nation. Of course, things get a little crazy here, as Forad leaves the party to lead the Chedian clans directly against the Beldonians, but his group is slaughtered. Yet how? Apparently a spirit of an earl reveals that Forad is a double agent, so naturally he's a traitor. We then get the attention of actual gods, such as the god of death, to bring back undead soldiers. But in order to do that, they have to get a Writ of Fate. There's the title! And they get it from Hanndl in Hallenhalt (supposedly this is based on Heimdall and Valhalla, and yes, you know it involves death and rising to heaven in some form).

So upon returning to the real world, Beldonians have taken over. So they manage to take out Forad, but Tamur Leng is another story as he himself has his own Writ of Fate that directly contradicts the party's. Within all this confusion, things get messed up, and Tamur joins the adventurers back to Hallenhalt to meet Krohn, the king of the gods (based on Odin). And with the messy diplomacy, he immediately realizes who's responsible. Njam the Meddler, another of the gods and I'm 100% certain is based off of Loki. The guy who essentially orchestrates the destinies of both the party's and Tamur's. He was the one who also impersonated the hermit, Yrsa, at the beginning of the game, as well as another one, Igrid, later on, and sabotaging Krohn so that he can have his wife Fre (based on Freya) and cause chaos in Axeoth. This man clearly wanted to play chessmaster, and then lure the king of the gods into a trap. However, Krohn instead sends both the party and Tamur instead, something Njam doesn't see coming. Sure enough, he's not to be beaten, but to be lured into his own trap, with lightning essentially petrifying him in the final dungeon, the Tomb of a Thousand Terrors.

Essentially speaking, the whole plot just seemed like a troll on the cliches of good and evil for two different sides. Regardless, both the party and Tamur get their actual Writs of Fate this time. Except it's really just "you guys defeat Njam by imprisoning him". While not the most trustworthy adventurers, Krohn does tell them all they can head to Arslegard (based on Asgard, naturally) for exalted places, yet at the catch that they will never leave. And that's basically Might and Magic IX's plotline. So weird, and honestly not well executed for a plot twist. Grade: B-

Music: According to Wikipedia the composers of M&M9's soundtrack are Paul Anthony Romero, Rob King, and Steve Baca. Three composers who all crafted generally medieval-style music that fits the overall atmosphere of a Might and Magic game quite well. Though frankly, this game's soundtrack (and sound effects) aren't that different from the previous entries. Maybe I have just been playing the franchise for far too long that I just get a little burned out with the sameiness. No wonder I'm moving to other franchises at the moment. Grade: B-

Overall grade: B-

Like at least three other franchise titles before it I enjoyed the ninth installment of Might and Magic good and well enough, although with franchise burnout and the weird plotline I enjoyed it a lot less. While I initially planned to play the spinoff installments of Heroes of Might & Magic, especially considering how it ties many plotlines together, I think it's time to check out a number of other games instead. With my workload being removed for much of the summer it's a perfect opportunity to do so.